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Cricket: Black Caps name starting XI for Boxing Day test against Australia at the MCG in Melbourne – New Zealand Herald



December 25, 2019
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Trent Boult will bolster the Black Caps’ bowling attack, while Tom Blundell will make his first test appearance in over two years in the side’s two changes for the must-win Boxing Day test against Australia at the MCG.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson confirmed on Wednesday that Boult has recovered from the rib injury that kept him sidelined for the first test in Perth, which the Aussies won by 296 runs.

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Black Caps dump Jeet Raval for Tom Blundell for Boxing Day test against Australia
Black Caps coach Gary Stead says key team changes are possible
Trent Boult ready for Boxing Day return for Black Caps at Melbourne Cricket Ground

Blundell replaces the struggling Jeet Raval at the top of the order after the left-hander was dismissed for one in both innings in Perth – continuing a dismal run which saw him average 7.3 in his last nine test innings.

The 29-year-old wicketkeeper played the last of his two tests against the West Indies in late 2017.

Black Caps head coach Gary Stead resisted the urge to make even more changes, as spinner Mitchell Santner was retained despite going wicketless at Optus Stadium.

Question marks still linger on what the Black Caps bowlers can expect from the MCG pitch. Usually a batsman-friendly deck, the pitch caused controversy earlier this month when a Sheffield Shield game was called off due to player safety fears.

Head curator Matt Page said the groundstaff had learned from that mistake, and predicted that a wicket would be produced that had less pace and bounce than the one in Perth, but should offer more seam movement.

For Boult, those would be excellent conditions to make his return in.

“From my point of view I’d love to see that happen, but it looks like we’re entering an unknown in a slight way with how the wicket is going to react. We’re just looking for a solid wicket and a test match that is going to go the distance.

“I’m hoping to pitch the ball up, swing it around, and hopefully take a few wickets that way, but we’ll see what happens.”

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